The Pittsburg State Gorillas reached their most wins in several years and made their first Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Tournament since 2004 — Pitt State, the No. 7 seed, will play a three-game series beginning Thursday against No. 2 Central Missouri in Warrensburg.
Pitt State earned a split on Senior Day, winning the first game 5-3 but losing the second 17-6. The 26 wins are the most for the Gorillas since 27 in 2006.
The games Sunday offered two extremely different versions of baseball.
Pitt State pitchers Cody Wren and Ryan McKay and Northwest Missouri pitchers Marcus Garrett and Tyler Barth combined to allow 10 hits over 13 innings pitched. The seven-inning game lasted 1 hour, 42 minutes.
The Bearcats and the Gorillas combined for 23 runs and 33 hits in the nightcap, as pitching coaches received heavy-duty exercise on trips from the dugout to the mound and back again for a total of 11 pitching changes between the rivals.
Northwest Missouri recorded 23 hits and left twice as many runners on base (12) as Pitt State scored (6). Six different Bearcats recorded multi-RBI games: Ryan Abernathy three and Tyler Durant, Eric Swain, Charlie Krueger, Luke Lawyer and Cameron Bedard two. Eight of the nine players in the Bearcats lineup had RBI.
The nine-inning game lasted 3 hr., 10 min., nearly twice as long as the first game.
In that first game, senior and Baxter Springs native Wren delivered his usual solid performance on the mound. Wren pitched into the seventh, giving up three runs (one earned) on five hits and striking out three while walking none.
With a 5-2 lead and one down, Pitt State called on ace reliever Ryan McKay. McKay induced Swain into a popout for the second out. Krueger hit a hard grounder just out of the reach of second baseman Austin Lastimado enough for Krueger to reach on a single and Northwest to score its third run.
Then, catcher Jacoby Martin caught Krueger leading off too far off first and threw a laser to first baseman Ryan Bilovesky to pick off Krueger, earn McKay a save and give Pitt State a 5-3 win, its 26th of the season.
Pitt State plated two runs in the sixth to extend its lead to 5-2. Brad Foss led off the frame with a double to right center and right fielder Tyler Durant helped Foss advance 90 more feet on an error. Northwest pulled starter Garrett and brought in Barth, who was promptly greeted by a Cody Ball RBI single. Pinch runner Samuel Falcon later scored on a Lastimado RBI single.
The Gorillas scored their first run on a Martin RBI groundout in the second and picked up two in the third on a Foss two-run single. Foss' two hits gave him exactly half of the Gorillas' total in the opening win.
In the nightcap, Pitt State could simply not keep up with Northwest. The Bearcats scored two in the second, two in the third, four in the fourth, two in the fifth, two in the sixth, one in the eighth and four in the ninth. In 47 official at-bats, Northwest recorded 23 hits, good for a .489 batting average.
Page 2 of 2 - Abernathy and Swain each recorded four-hit games for the Bearcats.
No. 6, Abernathy closed out his series with a 4-for-7 game with three runs scored and three RBI. He picked up two singles, a double and a home run, falling a triple short of the cycle after falling a double shy of the cycle Saturday night. Abernathy finished three games against Pitt State 8-13 (.615) with six runs scored, three homers (one in each game) and seven RBI. He increased his seasonal numbers to a .319 average with six homers and 34 RBI.
Pitt State had Ventura with two extra-base hits (double, triple), Lastimado hit a solo homer, Ian Robinson blasted a two-run double and Foss enjoyed another 2-3, this one highlighted by a triple into deep right. The Gorillas made five of their 10 hits the extra-base variety.
The Gorillas honored their 10 seniors between games: Bilovesky (the lone four-year Gorilla), Ventura, Lastimado, Wren, Matt Stalcup, Eric Hansen, Brett Cares, Gonzolo Gonzalez, Jake Moore and Pittsburg native Nick Whetzell.
Regular season leaders for the Gorillas include Foss with a .376 batting average, Ventura 49 runs scored, Foss 64 hits, Tory Stoffregen 17 doubles, Stoffregen and Ventura four triples, Bilovesky 10 homers, Stoffregen 44 RBI, Ventura 18 stolen bases and Stalcup six wins, three complete games, 58.0 innings pitched, 86 strikeouts and 27 base-on-balls.
Pittsburg State 5, Northwest Missouri 3 (7 innings)
NW 000 002 1 — 3 6 3
PSU 012 002 X — 5 4 1
Marcus Garrett, Tyler Barth (6) and Luke Lawyer. Cody Wren, Ryan McKay (7) and Jacoby Martin. WP: Wren (4-5). LP: Garrett (3-3). SV: McKay (4). E: Brandon Huske 2, Tyler Durant; Brad Foss. 2B: Foss. HR: Ryan Abernathy. SH: Ryan Ventura, Martin. CS: Austin Lastimado. HBP: Evan Thomas. LOB: NW 1, PSU 4.
Northwest Missouri 17, Pittsburg State 6 (9 innings)
NW 022 422 014 — 17 23 1
PSU 120 100 200 — 6 10 1
Jacob Raffaele, Blane Reutter (5), Tyler Barth (7), Rob Henrichs (8), Nathaniel Horton (9) and Luke Lawyer. Jake Stevenson, Gonzolo Gonzalez (3), Eric Hansen (4), Cameron Fisher (5), Brett Cares (7) Matt Reilly (9), Nick Brandecker (9) and Ian Robinson, Nick Whetzell. WP: Reutter (3-3). LP: Stevenson (2-5). E: Brandon Huske; Austin Lastimado. 2B: Charlie Krueger 2, Ryan Abernathy, Cameron Bedard; Ryan Ventura, Ian Robinson. 3B: Ventura, Brad Foss. HR: Abernathy, Eric Swain; Lastimado. SB: Abernathy, Bedard; Ventura, Foss. CS: Steven Garber; Nick Whetzell. HBP: Huske, Lawyer; Whetzell. LOB: NW 12, PSU 6.